ASU's D.J. Foster announces return for senior season

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TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State's hometown hero will be back for one more year.

On Tuesday, D.J. Foster announced his intention to return to the Sun Devils for his senior season in 2015. There had been some speculation that he could leave early for the NFL Draft, but the Scottsdale, Ariz. native put that to rest.

"I'm so happy to be a part of this program for my senior year," Foster said. 

After weighing all the factors, Foster stayed true to ASU for one more season.

"You have to take care of your life because it is your one shot, but when I saw the people that I care about, the reasons why I wanted to come to ASU in the first place," he said. "I saw no other way than to just finish out what I started, and being able to graduate and impact the community for one more year.”

"He sat down and did the pros and cons, which we’ve done before when he decided which college he wanted to go to," said D.J.'s mother Ruth. "At the end of it the pros outweighed the cons. Personally I feel there is a special feeling when you get your degree."

Foster also stated that he would be seeing much more time as a slot receiver after spending last season as the team's top running back, where his success earned him second team All-Pac-12 honors at the position. Over his career, Foster has seen plenty of action at receiver, catching 163 passes over the past three seasons.

"I will still play all over, but I do expect to play more slot receiver," Foster said. "I would rather be a receiver that can play running back than a running back that can play receiver. I have a lot of work to do in the offseason trying to tighten up the details and learn the position."

Foster said that honing his receiver skills not only benefits his long-term outlook as a NFL prospect, but also what is best for team needs.

"It helps the team next year and it helps me a little bit in my future because I could see myself being more of a slot receiver at the next level," he said.

He is coming off a 2014 season in which he rushed for 1,081 yards and nine touchdowns, and he was second on the team with 62 receptions for 688 yards. However, over the second half of the year, true freshman running back Demario Richard saw an increased role in the backfield, culminating in a four-touchdown performance in the Sun Bowl. Richard's emergence as the lead back pushed Foster to wide receiver more often, and now that alignment appears to be the norm.

Following one of the greatest careers in Arizona high school history, Foster chose ASU over several prominent offers, including finalists USC and Cal.

His commitment was the first major victory for head coach Todd Graham at ASU, and came at a critical time. Graham had inherited a Sun Devil program in total disarray, but with Foster's pledge six weeks later, ASU's fortunes began to turn for the better.

"When I first came here, it was really the first positive thing, that was really big for our program, D.J. choosing to be here, and wanting to be a Sun Devil," ASU head coach Todd Graham said. "I am excited that he is going to finish it, and get his degree."

Foster wasted no time in making an impact for the Sun Devils, earning freshman All-American honors. As a sophomore, Foster generated over 1,100 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns.

Over his ASU career, Foster has rushed 389 times for 2,075 yards and 17 touchdowns, and caught 163 passes for 1,874 yards and 11 more scores. 

At one point, Foster said that he was leaning towards going pro, but the feedback from the NFL, as well as his own goals, led him to return.

"They give you either a first or second round or come back to school and they did give me a come back to school grade," Foster said. "I knew the opportunity was in front of me and that I could take it, but I felt there are so many things that I still want to accomplish including getting my degree.”

Foster's impact on the program goes far beyond his on-field production, as he has become the face of the program's efforts to improve its in-state recruiting. He has appeared on billboards as part of the "Stay True to ASU" campaign, and his success at ASU has played a role in helping the Sun Devils secure several key in-state players since his initial commitment.

To Foster, being a Sun Devil means everything.

"I love this community, I love this school, and I love Sun Devil Nation," Foster said. "Even long after I am gone I will still care about this place and I will have a tremendous passion for being a Sun Devil the rest of my life."

"I know certain chapters in his life are very important and finishing chapters is so important to him," siad D.J.'s father Darryl. "ASU is that chapter and he is going to put his finishing touches on a great senior year and move on from there.”    

When Foster committed to ASU in Jan. of 2012, he ended his press conference with "Let's get Rose Bowl championships."

He'll now have one more chance to reach that goal.